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Need a new PC(s)/Laptop . Recommendations ?

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January 18, 2011 3:08:56 PM

Hi. I need a computer upgrade soon, and I'm totally stumped how to go about it.
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My current build : Athlon 2400+, Integrated graphics, more crap

What I know about my future purchase(s):-

Total budget : $1500 (Reduce that by 10% as we have to pay more for stuff in India)

Have to buy in : May-July

Performance required : High, not coz I'm a hardcore gamer or anything. But because I'm sick of being limited by my Athlon 2400+ for 7 years. I just want to be able to do anything I want on my PC.

Situation : I'm going to a college next year. Ideally, what I need is access to high-performance computer both at home and college.
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Option 1 : A gaming laptop like G53/G73/M15x.

Problems : Heavy, low battery life, also, will have trouble procuring one as these cost like $2500 in India. Have to depend on someone to bring it with him on a tour from US/Australia. And I don't know whom I can ask.
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Option 2 : A good PC + a netbook

Problems : Deprived of good computing either at home or college.
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Option 3 : Two PCs

Problems : Performance greatly diluted, if I stick to budget.
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Situation is further complicated by the fact that I know someone who has an i7 920 and wants to upgrade to Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge, so he'll be waiting until that comes out. Although if it does, he'll sell the processor + motherboard(MSI X58M) + some RAM to me for a good price as it's a two-year old build. Problems with this are:-

LGA 1366 : Going to be outdated soon
i7 920 : Already an old i7. Didn't see it on Newegg.
Motherboard (X58M) : Not the board I'd have brought.

So even if I buy the old i7, I'm kindda stuck.

Anybody see a way out of this ?

Thanks for reading what I think was quite a long post.

EDIT : I can't retain anything from my existing build. Budget includes UPS(es), Monitor(s), Keyboard(s), Mouse/Mice and the whole shebang.

More about : laptop recommendations

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 18, 2011 4:48:21 PM

What exactly are you going to be doing the most with the build? You're not a big gamer, and you didn't mention any tasks that would actually require a lot of processing power. Without knowing that, we can't really help you with what you should be building.

As for the options you've listed...

#1. Don't touch a gaming laptop. $1,500 won't even get you in the door to something that's decent. They're not worth it.

#2: Not a bad idea, if you don't need that much power on the go. Why can't you just take your desktop with you?

#3: Again, not a bad idea. This option would actually likely give you the most computing power overall. You could also cutomize a the build for what exactly you needed.

I still don't get why you can't move a desktop around, but assuming it's a space issue, you could build a microATX machine, like a LAN box. You'd get a good amount of power and decent portability as well.

I know that all pretty generic, but with your timeframe for buying so far off, we can't really give you specifics. Four months is really a really long time in the computing world...
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January 19, 2011 12:04:11 PM

MadAdmiral said:
What exactly are you going to be doing the most with the build? You're not a big gamer, and you didn't mention any tasks that would actually require a lot of processing power. Without knowing that, we can't really help you with what you should be building.............

....................I know that all pretty generic, but with your timeframe for buying so far off, we can't really give you specifics. Four months is really a really long time in the computing world...


Alright, I know it's a long time from now, and I don't need specific configurations at all. Such generic answers are exactly what I need, like PC or gaming laptop, two PCs etc. etc.

Since I myself don't know what I'm gonna do that's not generic, I'm gonna go for a gaming configuration. I never know when I decide to start learning 3D animation, or play any game. Can't go wrong with a gaming machine. So assume that if you think I should get a $250 netbook and spend the rest on a desktop, it will be a gaming-oriented desktop.

Problem with Option 2 is that I'll be at home for about 2-3 months in a year. So if I keep the desktop at college, I'll have 3 months I wouldn't be able to use it at all.

So do you think that it is possible to build a $1200 rig that gives power well worth its price [The performance loss compared to a full-sized desktop shouldn't be more than 5%] and is portable enough ?

About option 3 : Since I'd need two of everything, I'm left with mere $750. The monitor is gonna cost me some $200. The not-so-stable power situation would require me to get a UPS, another $50 gone. I'm left with $500, and once you factor the 10% higher Indian prices, I'm left with just $450. This wouldn't even get me the performance of a budget oriented System Builder Marathon. (Do note that with option two, I'm contemplating an i5/i7 and $200 I can spend on graphics, and even an SSD possibly, so option 3, which is at the bottom rung of the performance ladder doesn't seem quite fascinating)
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So I think that a desktop + a netbook is the option if I can get the desktop to be portable enough to be transported by bus/train two times a year. Besides, I don't have to get a netbook immediately, so I could even spend about $1400 on the desktop. Do note that stuff that needs to be transported includes both the monitor and the case. I'm gonna google up on lanboxes, but do give me your recommendations.

In short : What I need is good allround performance for a budget of $1500 that can be accessed at both home and college.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 19, 2011 1:28:12 PM

Instead of a gaming build, you should probably be looking at a truly balanced machine. A gaming build would be light on the CPU and heavy on the GPU, which makes it a bad build for non-gaming tasks, like 3D animation. A more balanced build you give you a modest CPU and a modest GPU. That would allow you to play most games at high details (or all at lowered details) and do fairly well in other tasks as well.

Knowing a little more about your situation, I'd still lean towards the small form factor concept. You can easily get a good one for under $1,200. It probably won't even cost that much. Basically, you'd be looking at a microATX board, which are significantly cheaper than ATX boards, and a microATX case. Everything else (HDD, CPU, GPU, etc.) would be basically the same.

Of course, it'd probably be good to eventually build up to having a monitor and UPS (don't know how portable a UPS is) at both locations. I'd recommend building the machine right before you go to school, buying a monitor and the UPS with it. Then you'd have the majority of the year to save up for a second monitor and UPS for home.

A configuration I'd look at (once Sandy Bridge gets over there):

CPU: i5-2500K or i7-2600K. If you want to overclock, get the "K" series. If not, get the regular versions.
Mobo: Asus P8P67-M. No Crossfire/SLI, but you probably wouldn't want that in a small form factor case anyway.
RAM: Any non-OCZ 2x2 GB DDR3 1600 mhz kit
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB or if you don't need that much storage, a Spinpoint F4
GPU: GTX 460 or HD 6850/6870/6950 or GTX 570/580. In that order. Get the biggest one you can afford. If you're serious about doing 3D animation (or video editing in general), I'd try to get a nVidia card.
PSU: A 550W from Corsair, Antec, Silverstone, or SeaSonic.
Case: Something like the NZXT Vulcan. It's 16" tall, 16.6" deep and 7" wide (40 cm x 42 cm x 18 cm), and can fit any video card out there.
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner you can find.

If you want to focus more on gaming, get the i5 and increase the budget for the GPU. If you want to do more non-gaming tasks, get the i7 and decrease the budget for the GPU.
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January 19, 2011 2:14:07 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Instead of a gaming build, you should probably be looking at a truly balanced machine. A gaming build would be light on the CPU and heavy on the GPU, which makes it a bad build for non-gaming tasks, like 3D animation. A more balanced build you give you a modest CPU and a modest GPU. That would allow you to play most games at high details (or all at lowered details) and do fairly well in other tasks as well.

Knowing a little more about your situation, I'd still lean towards the small form factor concept. You can easily get a good one for under $1,200. It probably won't even cost that much. Basically, you'd be looking at a microATX board, which are significantly cheaper than ATX boards, and a microATX case. Everything else (HDD, CPU, GPU, etc.) would be basically the same.

Of course, it'd probably be good to eventually build up to having a monitor and UPS (don't know how portable a UPS is) at both locations. I'd recommend building the machine right before you go to school, buying a monitor and the UPS with it. Then you'd have the majority of the year to save up for a second monitor and UPS for home.




Thanks for another quick reply. I always wanted a desktop when I upgraded, and with this, it just might be possible.

A few questions, if you could look at them.

1. What is the approximate weight of such a build ? [Say, the build you posted above ?] I can not buy the PC before going to college, as only way I'll get it is if I do make it to that college [One of the most exclusive engineering colleges of my country, so there's no guarantee I'm there until I'm sitting in a hostel room there, with my stuff unpacked] so buying two monitors at the time is out of question. I'll have to haul the entire rig + monitor for an year or two.

2. What are the drawbacks of a uATX motherboard, and those of a computer equipped with such a board, compared to a same config equipped with a good full-sized board ?

3. What were your criteria for choosing the NZXT case ? That's coz there's a chance I won't get the best case in my country, so have to look for something I can do with.

4. A bit useless question, but I just measured my Compaq Presario SR1105IL case, and its dimensions seem to be shorter than the NZXT case. And from what I know, it comes with a ATX size board. Any idea ?

PS : I'll spend my $1400 even if I have to import a floppy drive from Mars to reach it. It's my parents' money, after all. And my first upgrade in seven years. And probably the only upgrade for the next four. :sol:  :kaola: 

PPS : Oh, just saw the reason you mentioned the $1200 figure. I probably meant $1400 there. Darn typo.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 19, 2011 2:43:03 PM

1.) It shouldn't be too heavy. The case itself is only 13 lbs, which is really light for a case. I'd guess that the total weight once it's built would be around 20-25 lbs, maybe a bit more.

I wasn't suggesting that you buy two monitors when you first build the machine. I was saying if you timed your first buy (the machine, a monitor and a UPS) to coincide approximately with when you started school, you'd have nearly a full year before you would have to worry about a second monitor or UPS.

2.) The drawback of a mATX board is that it's small. There isn't a lot of options, and they rarely have a lot of expansion slots. Most mATX boards will only have a single PCIe 2.0 slot, which means you can't have multiple video cards. That's about it though.

3.) I was basically looking for something that is relatively small, yet has room for a larger video card, and has several fans. You can make do with two fans (one top/back, one front/bottom), which might mean you'll need to buy an exta fan with some of the cheaper cases. I was also looking for a brand I knew. Some other high quality options would be Coolermaster, Antec, Silverstone, Lian Li, and Rosewill (might not be available there). I can't point to a specific model form those companies though.

4.) It's enitrely possible. I don't know if your current case has fans in the front (I'm guessing not), but that could add a little more to the length. Also, the NZXT is arranged in such a way that it's overall size is limited, but the space for the GPU is maximized. So even though the space for the board is smaller, the video card has room to overhang the board at the front of the case. I'm not saying that the NZXT is the smallest case out there (you could look at some HTPC cases, but good luck finding a GPU to fit in them), but the NZXT balances performance and size.
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January 19, 2011 2:57:43 PM

MadAdmiral said:
1.) It shouldn't be too heavy. The case itself is only 13 lbs, which is really light for a case. I'd guess that the total weight once it's built would be around 20-25 lbs, maybe a bit more......

.....but the NZXT balances performance and size.


25 lbs. that's 10 kg. But then, a gaming laptop that I'd have to carry all day would be somewhere around 4.5 kg [12 lbs].

Thanks a lot for all the advice. This uATX thing is looking much more feasible than a gaming laptop. See you in four months. :) 
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January 19, 2011 2:58:06 PM

Best answer selected by kkiddu.
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